FG Sacks NigComSat Boss, Orders Probe of Agency

The federal government, through the Ministry of Communications Technology, has ordered the sack of the Managing Director of the Nigerian Communications Satellite (NigComSat), Timasaniyu Ahmed-Rufai, and has ordered a full investigation of the financial status of the company.
Following a ministerial directive by the Minister of Communications Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson, it was gathered that the Board of Directors of NIGCOMSAT had asked Ahmed-Rufai to proceed on indefinite leave.
This directive is to pave the way for an investigation into the financial status of the company.
Consequently, the Executive Director in charge of Marketing at NigComSat, Ms. Abimbola Alale, had been named acting Managing Director, pending the conclusion of the investigation.
Ahmed-Rufai, who has extensive experience in both private and public sectors started as Project Manager of NigComSat-1 before the establishment of NigComSat Limited in April 2006, when he was named Managing Director/ Chief Executive.
Alale also started as a member of the project team and was appointed Director of Marketing of NIGCOMSAT Limited in 2006 and rose to the position of Executive Director Marketing until her recent appointment as Acting Managing Director.
Although no financial misappropriation had been linked with Ahmed-Rufai, it was not very clear as at press time, the actual cause of the sack.
Ahmed-Rufai however, ran into trouble waters, when he proposed a bill that will make NigComSat autonomous.
His idea was that the bill would empower NigComSat to source for money, instead of depending on the Federal Ministry of Communications Technology, where it belongs to, as a parastatal under the ministry.
The minister, it was learnt, was not at ease with the proposed bill and had vehemently disagreed with it.
The move to make NigComSat autonomous, started in 2012.
Some stakeholders that also kicked against the bill, had alleged that if the bill was approved, it would raise stiff competition between NigComSat and other regulatory bodies like the Ministry of Communications Technology and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
The embattled NigComSat boss had promised Nigerians of increased bandwidth availability, if the proposed bill was signed into law. The propose bill had however not been passed by members the National Assembly.
According Ahmed-Rufai: “The downstream sector will benefit immensely from the increased availability of bandwidth, and opportunities to partner NigComSat for the delivery of services,” adding that NigComSat had no domestic competitors, as there are no other indigenous communication satellite operators.
“NigComSat is rather in competition with foreign satellite operators such as YAHSAT, INTELSAT and SES NEW SKIES who also provide bandwidth for the Nigerian market. Rather than being called competitors, the private sector players are partners, “so such fears are indeed misplaced,” he said.
Ahmed-Rufai had listed the benefits of NigComSat to include a win-win platform for Nigeria, providing avenues for job and wealth creation in the downstream sector, generation of income for the federal government through the sale of bandwidth and satellite applications, provision of Internet Protocol (IP) cloud/broadband to support the cashless policy, and provision of a backbone for the migration of the broadcasting industry from analogue to digital systems by 2015.

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